FG targets looters as Buhari signs anti-graft, extradition treaties

By Tunde Oyesina and Anule Emmanuel

Trouble seems to be brewing for politically exposed persons, who have looted the nation’s resources and hid such in foreign countries. President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed instruments of ratifica-tion for various bilateral agreements to strengthen the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war.

The signing of the agreements is in line with the vision of the administration in diversifying the nation’s economy and delivering in the fight against corruption.The agreements, signed by the president, covered Anti-Corruption, Tax Administration and Intellectual Property Protection.

Speaking at the brief ceremony, Buhari said that the signing of the agreements marked a very important milestone in Nigeria’s demonstration of sovereign capacity to fulfilling international obligations and taking important steps for the benefit of the economy, security and the anti-corruption war within and outside the country.

He said the duty of executing Instruments of Ratification of certain Agreements on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was pursuant to the powers conferred on him by Section 5(1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties of 1969.

Buhari noted that pursuant to a Memorandum presented to the Federal Executive Council by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Council has approved the ratification of the agreements which paved way for signing ceremony.

“With this sovereign act, which has been replicated in the United Arab Emirates by their responsible authorities, we are now in a position to utilize these agreements fully to foster cooperation between our respective authorities, particularly for the purpose of prosecuting the anti-corruption campaign of this government,” he added.

He noted that the full implementation of the agreements has, however, been delayed due to the need by both sides to conclude their respective ratification processes. According to President Buhari, the Agreements ratified included, Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters.

The ratification also include, Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, extradition Treaty. He said other Instruments of Ratification slated for execution today are the Charter for the Lake Chad Basin between Nigeria, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger and the Republic of Chad, the African Tax Administration Forum Agreement on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters and World Intellectual Property Organisation Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

They also included the World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty on Audio-Visual Performances and the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise. President Buhari said he expected the signed instruments to reinvigorate the anti-corruption war and check the illicit flow of funds out of our country to other jurisdictions, improve national security, food security, boost the nation’s economic and tax regimes and improve the overall well-being of our creative community.

He, therefore, charged all agencies of government with roles under the respective treaties now ratified to ensure that they play their anticipated roles in an effective and responsible manner in order to ensure that we reap the full benefits of these agreements. Speaking on the implication of the signing of the treaty, Special Assistant of President Muhammadu Buhari, Okoi Obono-Obla, said it would no longer be a free day for public looters again. According to him, in chat with New Telegraph in Abuja, Obla said: “The signing of the treaty is a good thing, especially in our fight against corruption. It is on record that about $500 million worth of assets were repatriated to the United Arab Emirates.

By this, such people who looted the public property will no longer have a haven. “Before now, it was difficult to extradite such people because of the lack of the treaty. But now, the Nigerian Government can get them and prosecute them here in Nigeria”.New Telegraph recalls that the Federal Government had been in an understanding with the government of the United State to recover about $144 million allegedly looted by a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Alison Madueke through US.

The Presidency had while reacting to the filing of a civil complaint by the US Department of Justice seeking the forfeiture and recovery of approximately $144 million in assets that are allegedly the proceeds of foreign corruption offences and were laundered in and through the U.S., Obla had then stated, “We have an arrangement with the US government, just like that of the Abacha loot which we have instructed lawyers in the US to file an application before the US court so as to get back our money that was forfeited to the Government of US.

“This is because, the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke SAN, inexplicably and curiously refused to defend himself in the action and then a default judgement was entered and the US court ordered that the money be forfeited to the US.
President Muhammadu Buhari 6533459381534798808

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